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05-27-2009, 10:31 AM   #1
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Sports photography help

Upcoming sunday, I'll be using my new K20D and Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 to take some shots of a gymnastics tournament. (I don't have this camera and lense yet, for those who helped me in the "Switching to Pentax?" thread, but I should have them in time.) I've never had a hand at sports photograhy, so it'll be a learning event for me.

For what it's worth, I've been told the room will not be well lit, and flash isn't allowed (not that I'd use it anyway). I've also been told it might not be possible to get close, but maybe, if I'm lucky, something could be arranged.

When hearing this information, I thought I might have to use higher ISO values to get fast time values, and put the lens capabilities to good use as much as possible. I'm thinking of using 1/250 or faster, and aperture value as I see fit. I'm also thinking of using some lower shutter speeds to try and get some movement recorded.

I can already imagine a few scenarios and shots, when I think of the event, but still.... Do you have any tips, general rules of thumb, etc. that I should think of?

05-27-2009, 03:38 PM   #2
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I read some of the posts from the swtiching to Pentax thread and am glad you decided to go Pentax! We need more sports photographers with Pentax especially with the upcoming K-7 and it's 5 fps.
I haven't done alot of sports photography but alot of low light photography. I think you should try to stick to ISO's at around 400-1600 depending on how light/dark it is. If you feel uncertain use the auto ISO function but restrain it to that level. Use Tv mode, considering it's gymnastics people will be moving pretty fast so 1/180 and up. 1/45 is OK for people standing still and not doing much, when you're close enough to get a frame from waist up so 1/90 should to for movement shots.
Please post some photos on this thread afterwards!
05-27-2009, 04:53 PM   #3
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If you haven't already, you might want to download the manual ahead of time and get familiar with using white balance for indoors if you're going to shoot jpegs. Very interested in hearing how you like that lens on your K20. Ken.

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05-27-2009, 05:19 PM   #4
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Me shooting rugby (outdoors but can get very dark by 4:30pm mid-winter):
TAv mode
Auto-Iso 100-4500
Min shutter speed I set is 1/350, preferably 1/500 or faster
Aperture - obviously min of 2.8, but try to use 3.5 or 4 if I can

You have to balance shutter and aperture according to your requirements, whether you want some motion blur, or how fast they're moving etc.
Obviously ISO 4500 is extreme, but if it's a choice between that or nothing then I'll take it.
Some of your shots will require panning, some won't, so you'll have to experiment.
Monopod if you can for extra stability, but maybe it will get in the way of your "creativity", eg shots from down low etc.

Really you just have to experiment.

Oh yeah - indoors. Apparently the lighting balance can be tricky and actually chnge by the fraction of the second due to cycle times of the lights, so I would shoot raw so you don't have to worry about it.

05-27-2009, 05:23 PM   #5
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You are a brave soul to shoot this event and not even had a chance to practice with the camera and lens yet. Congrats. on going with Pentax and sport shooting can be done very well with practice and well, more practice. I started shooting motorsports with a manual everything slr in the '70s now I use a K10 or a K20 (thinking about the K-7 though) you can use continuous AF or spot AF, I use AF.C most of the time if I am tracking (panning with the subject) and AF.S if I want to capture a subject at a partictular point, say on the horse or rings. For shutter speed it kind of depends on the age/size of those compeating the older and bigger(stronger), the faster they are a faster shutter speed of 150 or higher may be needed but the younger ones maybe to age 13 or so you may be able to go as slow as 90 to 125, ISO I usually allow a max of 800 so as not to add to much grain (K10) and use f2.8 to let a much light in as I can. Sometimes the shots are a little dark (hockey rinks and school Gyms are not well lit) but if shot in RAW can be corrected quickly. Being new to shooting sports try and stand to the side of the action and pan with it you should get your best results (the camera has an easier time focusing on action going across it instead of right at it or away from it). Good luck it will be a learning experiance but can be done, check out my site to see some sports shots and also low light band shots with movement. If I can be of further assistance please let me know.
05-27-2009, 06:10 PM   #6
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Sounds like you have concerns about both shutter speed & aperture. TAv mode may be the best solution.


05-27-2009, 06:51 PM   #7
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dont worry, the K20D and the Sigma will do fine. Its the tracking that you have got to be aware off as the K20D on its own is not so good in keeping focus lock on the subject so have to compensate with your own techniques.

here i am with k20d and a tamron 75-300 in one of the most challenging of conditions without flash.

Redbull XFighters

Last edited by Reportage; 05-27-2009 at 06:58 PM.
05-27-2009, 07:18 PM   #8
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I use these two as well mostly for motorsport, I would suggest if you can go to the venue before the event and try the equipment. Or if you cannot have access take a laptop or mini laptop (I use a Benq litejoy 101 as it weigh 1kg), take it with you to do some test shots.

I use 4gb cards as well.

The more photos you take the better you get
05-27-2009, 09:19 PM   #9
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Yes, brave mann for taking a brand new Pentax into a dimly lit room with moving objects LOL!

In addition to the good advice here, I'd advise taking some safe shots - no panning, no zooming until you can see the nose hairs, no motion blur. Just start by taking some basic high ISO, high shutter, smallest aperture you can manage shots where you've fixed the focus on a stationary object and then wait for the gymnast to enter the frame. Get a feel for how the K20d exposes and focuses under those circumstances before you get all artistic.

One of the good things about the 14.x megapixels is that it gives you a lot of data to crop with.

Enjoy and post when you return!
05-27-2009, 11:22 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Reportage Quote
dont worry, the K20D and the Sigma will do fine. Its the tracking that you have got to be aware off as the K20D on its own is not so good in keeping focus lock on the subject so have to compensate with your own techniques.

here i am with k20d and a tamron 75-300 in one of the most challenging of conditions without flash.

Redbull XFighters

What ISO did you use?

I have the same setup in a K10D and want this lens to perform like yours did.
05-28-2009, 03:04 AM   #11
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Here's one of my "sports" shots

It wasn't during a competition though haha, it was a planned shoot.
05-28-2009, 03:17 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by res3567 Quote
what iso did you use?

I have the same setup in a k10d and want this lens to perform like yours did.
iso 800/1600.
05-28-2009, 12:50 PM   #13
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I've done some indoor dog agility shooting with my K20 and a Sigma 70-200EX and I always had to keep ISO set to 3200 and use f/2.8 to get even close to the shutter speeds I needed to freeze action.

You can always remove noise in post process (I use noiseware) so I'd opt for higher ISO then the possibility of motion blur (you really can't fix blur).. at least that is IMO

Good luck!

05-28-2009, 02:00 PM   #14
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Original Poster
Thanks, guys, for the comments and advice. They will come in handy. Nice pictures too!

I had a quick check at the online manual and I must say I like it more than the 450D's. Will have to check it out some more for info. When I finally have the camera in my hands, I think I'll quickly get used to it.

I was indeed planning to use TAv mode, but was then wondering whether the K20D would properly auto-choose ISO. I wasn't planning on using Tv at all, but maybe I will anyway.
05-28-2009, 02:53 PM   #15
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You will be fine....I'm sure...remember "green button"..."adjust" :-)

Hey don't worry...if the event has past I am sure you learned the following...

a. f/2.8 in bad lighting can be at times like f/4.5 in half way good lighting.
b. I would position myself towards where the gymnast are going to land and strike a pose for at least 1-2 seconds. That would be my main spot....better chances of success rather than playing with action down the run way or mat. Also more room for creativity so it doesn't look like you roamed around the same area the entire time.
c. You will do better next time once you become familiar with your camera. A word of Pentax lenses...not to start a war about lenses but at least they are designed to work together...entirely...without added tweaks to compensate for.



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